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Random thoughts, bright ideas and interesting experiments. In short the ramblings of a fulltime nerd. - A wrap up

Jakob Westhoff

Some time ago I was asked to visit the PHP Barcamp austria, which took place last weekend in Salzburg. I was looking forward to this event for quite some time, as it promised to become a chance to meet with some old, as well as new friends of the PHP community.

The journey

Accompanied by Thomas Weinert and Bastian Feder I took a flight from Cologne/Bonn directly to Salzburg on Friday afternoon. After we checked in at the hotel we ran into other participants and orgas of the barcamp, who were on their way to the welcome party. After a short walk to the location we sat down in the beer garden, as the weather was warm and friendly. We were sitting under a big wooden pavilion at a really big round table. More and more participants got there, while time was passing by. It was a really nice evening with lots of interesting conversations about all different kinds of stuff. Overall it seemed to be more like a meeting of friends or family, than a bunch of strangers. It was a proper start for a great barcamp to come.

Waking up

After such a great evening with lots of different beverages my alarm clock rang way to early ;). At about 10 o'clock we started to determine the sessions for the first day. Everybody who had something to say wrote the title of his topic as well as his name onto a piece of paper. Afterwards everybody got the chance to say some words about himself and the talk he/she wanted to present. The final decision was made by show of hands. As we were only about 40 participants (a rough estimation) this was a feasible solution. There were 4 time slots available for the day with always two presentations given in parallel, making up a total of 8 presentations for the day.

First presentation of the day

After handling all the orga stuff we had quite some time, before the first talk was about to start. Brigitte Jellinek from the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg used the time to give a short session. Presenting the current state of the Bachelor course of studies concerning computer science and multimedia technology, she was interested in the audiences opinion about structure and topics taught to students. She was eager to hear what ideas we had on what the Master courses should contain.

The audience was quite active and discussed missing topics, which some of us had to learn the hard way during our day to day work, or which we noticed to be missing in the knowledge of new colleges, who just left university.

Overall I have to admit, I would have loved to visit just some of the courses discussed here during my own computer science studies. It seemed to me that everything I have been missing during my studies is taught at the University of applied Sciences of Salzburg. If you are about to begin your studies in this particular field of interest and you are living in Austria, you might want to take a closer look at this university. You might like what you see.

Scaling, Sharding, Distribution

During the first time slot I attended Scaling, Sharding, Distribution presented by Lars Jankowfsky. I already saw the talk during the last IPC, still it is always entertaining to see Lars giving a talk and you never know, what you might learn :).

Designing URL Schemes and REST Interfaces

David Zuelkes talk about Designing URL Schemes and REST Interfaces was the second one I attended on this day. Even though I already knew a lot about the HTTP RFC and RESTful webservices, I still learned some small details I missed until now. Way to many webdevelopers are incapable of designing semantically correct URLs for their applications. This is mainly due to the fact, that they don't really know what URLs are supposed to represent and even more important what they should not represent. David explained this in detail, by presenting the theory first, followed by an example of how the Twitter API would look, if it would be RESTful.

Developing CouchApps with CouchDB

The next talk was given by me about the development of applications which are delivered and stored inside the document database CouchDB. These applications are called CouchApps. I got some feedback telling me, that the talk was too fast and that it was missing some real world examples. I am sorry for that. It was the first time I gave this particular talk, therefore I would really love to read your comments and suggestions about it on its page. Please help me to make this one better fit your likings.

Get a part of the PHP community

The last talk on this day I attended was given by Johannes. He gave a presentation of how to get involved with the PHP community. Showing different ways of possible participation in the community he explained what can be done to help the project: Writing documentation, creating tests, submitting patches and bugreports, developing extensions, ….

Powerpoint-Karaoke and other kinds of humiliation ;)

After some time to freshen up, some of us met again in the biggest presentation room, which had been rearranged to be more conversation friendly, to get some dinner. After that some powerpoint-karaoke took place. For the ones of you who do not know this game, it's essentially a presentation you have to give using random slides you have never seen before. Mostly on some kind of nonsense topic. Some of the presentations were fun, but I can tell you standing there and doing this feels kind of bad ;).

The rest of my evening was filled with interesting discussions and conversations about all kinds of stuff. As a surprise even live music was played, which some people used to have some fun dancing. I won't go into detail here ;).

Sleepless in Salzburg

After just about 3 hours of sleep I woke up on the second day of the barcamp. I stumbled down to the voting session for this day. The procedure was equivalent to the one on the day before. After a short amount of time all sessions were planned and everybody was ready to go.

Netbeans for PHP & PHP Dev with Eclipse

The first session I attended was a comparison of different features found in the Eclipse and Netbeans IDE. Unfortunately I can't tell you a lot about this session, as I was still partly sleeping ;).

QA / Testing

The next talk was one of Sebastians talks about unit testing in PHP. He explained some good practices for development which allow for testable code. Furthermore he showed some architectural decisions, which make testing hard or impossible and explained how to solve these problems gracefully.

Deeper down the rabbit hole: Advanced Regular Expressions

After I had enough time to recover from the last night I gave a talk about advanced regular expressions. Thomas Weinert was standing at my side telling the audience about named subpatterns, assertions, recursion and all kinds of other stuff available in PCRE.

Testing Javascript applications with js-test-driver

Having been asked the night before to present something about a javascript testing framework and runner called js-test-driver I did just that. It was a recycled talk I already gave at the PHPUG Cologne/Bonn. Because it was designed for a much bigger timeslot I just used the slides as a guideline to show the main aspects of jsttestddriver and some example code to detail its usage.

NodeJS livecoding

In the last event of this day Sebastian Schürmann did some NodeJS livecoding, showing some features and possibilities this new approach of serverside Javascript does provide. It was a really interesting session with a lot of discussion about possible real world applications of this technology.

Thank you and see you next year

Overall the Barcamp was a great success. I had a lot of fun last weekend. My thanks go out to all the orgas which worked hard to make all this possible. One thing is for sure, if there is a second Barcamp in Austria I will be there. See you all next year, maybe in Vienna? (hint ;).